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Andrew A. Cejas v. W.K. Myers

March 11, 2013


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis L. Beck United States Magistrate Judge


Plaintiff Andrew Cejas ("Plaintiff") is a prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed this action on February 24, 2012. He filed a First Amended Complaint ("FAC") on May 31, 2012.*fn1 Plaintiff names Pleasant Valley State Prison ("PVSP") Warden James Yates, Captain A. Walker, Community Resources Manager W. K. Myers, Chaplain D. McGee, Associate Warden R. Fisher, Associate Warden R. H. Trimbler, Chief of Inmate Appeals D. Foston, Examiner D. Van Leer, Sergeant S. Deathridge and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR") as Defendants.


The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).

The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally "frivolous or malicious," that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1),(2). "Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action or appeal . . . fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

A complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim that is plausible on its face.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id.

Section 1983 provides a cause of action for the violation of Plaintiff's constitutional or other federal rights by persons acting under color of state law. Nurre v. Whitehead, 580 F.3d 1087, 1092 (9th Cir 2009); Long v. County of Los Angeles, 442 F.3d 1178, 1185 (9th Cir. 2006); Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). Plaintiff's allegations must link the actions or omissions of each named defendant to a violation of his rights; there is no respondeat superior liability under section 1983. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676-77; Simmons v. Navajo County, Ariz., 609 F.3d 1011, 1020-21 (9th Cir. 2010); Ewing v. City of Stockton, 588 F.3d 1218, 1235 (9th Cir. 2009); Jones, 297 F.3d at 934. Plaintiff must present factual allegations sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.


Plaintiff states that this is a class action and that he seeks to represent similarly situated individuals who have been, or will be, subject to the practices that have resulted in denial to chapel access for Buddhist services. Plaintiff is incarcerated at PVSP, where the events complained of occurred.

Plaintiff contends that although he is scheduled for religious services twice a week, he is not receiving access to the chapel on a weekly, or even monthly, basis. He further alleges that officials at PVSP are giving special privileges to Muslim inmates, who are allowed to have religious services in the chapel without a state chaplain or religious volunteer.

Plaintiff further alleges that in 2009 and 2011, while he was placed on C-status to serve time for disciplinary actions, he filed administrative grievances because he was not allowed to attend Buddhist services. Other C-status prisoners were allowed to attend Muslim and Jewish holidays.

Plaintiff alleges that he filed a "group appeal" on or about December 20, 2010, regarding years of denial of chapel access for Buddhist services. He explained that Defendant McGee did not "show up" so that Plaintiff could have religious services. Compl. 20. Defendant Myers partially granted the appeal on January 27, 2011, explaining that if there is a state chaplain or religious volunteer present, religious groups may meet at the scheduled time in the facility chapel. If a volunteer or chaplain is not available, inmates may meet in the facility recreation yard.

On April 4, 2011, Defendant Trimbler partially granted the second level appeal. On July 19, 2011, Defendant Van Leer answered at the final level.

Plaintiff alleges that Buddhist inmates are not being treated equally because they are not permitted to have services in the chapel without a chaplain or custody officer present. He further alleges that Defendants denied him a reasonable opportunity to attend services indoors, thereby avoiding health risks associated with Valley Fever and extreme temperatures.

Based on these allegations, Plaintiff alleges causes of action against Defendants Yates, Trimbler, Walker, McGee and Myers for violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Person Act, the First Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment.

Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief and monetary damages. He states that he seeks punitive damages only ...

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